News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 7, 2013

READERS' FORUM: July 7, 2013

The Tribune-Star

---- — VCSC swimming pool proposal has great merit

I am a Terre Haute resident, Terre Haute South graduate and current student at the University of Notre Dame. A vast majority of my success as a student and as a person has been due to the swimming program, which is why I am writing today.

I know that Terre Haute along with much of the country is facing difficult economic times, which means making hard decisions. But I believe abandoning swimming as an entire community is the wrong decision and puts us on a slippery slope of cutting sports simply because they aren’t as “popular” as basketball or football.

Never mind that the Terre Haute South Swimming and Diving Team repeatedly has one of the best average GPAs in the school, regularly out-performs other sports on the state level and is increasingly gaining attention from the national swimming community.

The benefits of having swimming pools in this city go beyond the swim teams. Having pools shows we are serious about public health (an issue with which Indiana struggles) and that we want to give kids the chance to learn a skill that can potentially save a life one day.

Replacing outdated pools with one new one at a cost less than the repairs would require is a common sense solution. I hope that the school board can look past public opinion on this matter and make informed and professional decisions that benefit the constituents they care most about, the children of the Vigo County School Corp.

— Sarah Senseman

Terre Haute

Pool hearing will need larger room

The Vigo County School Corp. meeting on July 22 is a chance for all of us to be heard on the proposal of a new centrally located pool.

We all have the right to have our voices heard because this is our tax money being spent.

The meeting room is not large enough for many people. I am proposing a change of venue to a different school building so that all who wish to attend and voice an opinion may be heard. Possibly Woodrow Wilson Auditorium?

— Karen Harris

Terre Haute

Removing the obesity stigma

In the last month, the American Medical Association (AMA) created a huge controversy by bestowing the label “disease” on obesity. Is obesity a disease? The word “disease” is defined rather loosely, even in medical dictionaries, so obesity probably meets disease criteria.

However, I doubt whether the AMA actually cares whether obesity strictly meets the definition of a disease. The AMA mostly wishes to remove the stigma from obesity and focus on treatment. And yes, the AMA would like to have health insurance cover obesity-related costs.  

Erasing the stigma from obesity will not be easy. Fattyphobes use every opportunity to proclaim that obesity simply reflects a lack of personal responsibility.  

Really? The obesity epidemic that has been building in America over the last 50 years is because people have abandoned personal responsibility? No thought that maintaining weight today might be more challenging than it was in the Leave-It-to-Beaver 1960s?

Since the 1960s, food availability, especially the availability of calorie-laden foods, has increased dramatically. Unhealthy foods are constantly hawked on television and are even peddled for profit in schools. Human evolution is not quite as fast as evolution in the food industry; thus, we are still saddled with genes selected to promote fat storage and food-seeking. Nature can be a mean mistress, especially with the food industry as a pimp.

Since the 1960s, physical activity has played a smaller part in the daily lives of many people. Manual labor is disappearing. Walking to work or to the store often is not feasible. Electronic games and social media have replaced more active pursuits. The burnout of today comes from stress, not calorie loss.

Since the 1960s, there have been many environmental changes. Chemical pollutants of all kinds are accumulating, and some have been linked to obesity. The use of high-fructose corn syrup in foods may promote obesity. Sleep deprivation, which is increasingly common, may promote obesity. Who knows what else is on the list?

Personal responsibility has not declined. People are just overwhelmed by the new challenges. People need help, not disapproval. The slogan “just say no” didn’t decrease sexual activity, and it won’t help people overcome obesity.

By labeling obesity a disease, the AMA may be able to offer effective therapies. Professional behavioral modification (encouraging more personal responsibility and control) will be an important part of any therapy. However, many people will require additional help, including low-cost access to drugs and surgery.

— Jim Hughes

Terre Haute

Thanks for STEM Camp support

I want to thank the individuals and groups that made it possible for eight young ladies to attend the St. Mary’s STEM Camp last week. Because of successful collaboration and dedication, these bright and inquisitive girls were able to learn how exciting and fun science, technology, engineering, and math — yes, math! — could be.

I want the community to know that had it not been for a conversation between McLean Principal Scotia Brown and Professor Monique Bate Akoachere, we would have been totally oblivious. If Bill Felts, of the 14th Chestnut Community Center, hadn’t believed in the vision, we would have been short on transportation. Had women like Elaine Brown Kim McMurray not thought it important, we would have not been able to give as many girls the opportunity to attend.

I want to thank the Terre Haute NAACP Branch members for getting on board. Sandra Wickware, John Lang and First Vice President Sylvester Edwards, I appreciate each day you took time to transport and provide snacks, and for proving to those girls that some adults not related to them  just want to help them succeed, seeking nothing in return.

We couldn’t have done any of this had parents not taken a chance on the NAACP and said yes. I deeply value your trust.

And finally, thank you, Dr. Monique and Dr. Anneliese Payne for reaching out across the river to make sure that diversity was more than an idea. I am so grateful that so many people got involved in making this a reality. I cannot wait to mobilize our community like this again in the near future.

— Valerie A. Hart-Craig

President, Greater Terre Haute NAACP

It’s time to end Cuba embargo

The trade embargo on Cuba was imposed back in the days when most people were still speaking on telephone party lines. Cuba is considered one of our enemies and is one of the countries listed as a “terrorist” country though it has not committed any terrorist acts against the U.S. or any other country. More than 50 years ago — in U.S. presidential time that is 11 presidents ago — because of the confrontation between the U.S. and Cuba over the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons that had been placed there by Russia — there has been a trade embargo against Cuba. The trade embargo means that American businesses are forbidden to buy or sell to Cuba.

Cuba is no threat to the U.S. While 50 years of this extreme boycott has made Cuba poor, it has not achieved its one and only goal which was to bring down the Communist government of the Castro brothers. Fidel Castro, despite the best efforts of our CIA to kill him in remarkably creative ways, is still alive although he has ceded his power to his brother, Raul. Probably the most creative as well as ludicrous way the CIA tried to kill Castro was to put explosives in his cigars.

John F. Kennedy initiated the blockade and had intended to lift it, but was assassinated before he could do it. Others picked up the issue, namely Jesse Helms from North Carolina and Dan Burton from Indiana. The Helms-Burton law makes it illegal to sell food and medicine to Cuba. The blockade has made it difficult for Cuba’s economy to survive, yet it still endures. During the so-called “Special Period” Cubans did not have enough food to eat though they could have purchased it from the U.S. if it had been permitted.

Forbidding American businesses from selling even food and medicine to Cuba has been a great hardship on these people. The U.S. keeps other countries from trading with Cuba by refusing to let these countries unload their cargo in U.S. ports if they have traded with Cuba. There are some Latin American countries and Spain that do trade with Cuba, but Latin American countries do not always have the supplies Cuba needs and transporting heavy machinery needed for industry is too expensive for Cuba to buy from Spain. Cuba would much prefer to buy its heavy equipment from the U.S. for obvious reasons.

A few years ago, every Cuban household was sent a survey and asked what they most wanted the government to change. Cubans said they wanted to start small business enterprises. The government responded by changing its laws so they can do this. There is a snag, however, and that is, it is difficult for these new entrepreneurs to buy wholesale goods to sell in their stores or to found a factory to make goods because factories require heavy machinery they can’t get.

American businesses could benefit from the additional trade with Cuba. Cubans, for example, love pork and I am sure Indiana pig farmers would love to export Indiana pork to them. It is time for this inhumane law to be ended. The United Nations, the United Council of Churches, The United Methodist Church, The American Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, and various foreign governments have been saying this for many years. You don’t have to like the Cuban version of government to realize that keeping food and medicine and goods to sell to create a healthy economy only harms average people trying to get along the way we all try to get along.  

We trade with China and Vietnam, both still very much communist countries yet refuse to trade with Cuba which is hardly consistent or reasonable. It is time to end this vicious law and time to love our neighbors as ourselves. Please write or phone your Congress people in the U.S. House and Senate and encourage them to reverse this dinosaur of a law.

— Cathy McGuire

Terre Haute

Choosing from contradictions

In his Flashpoint essay of June 23, Saul Rosenthal writes: “In our daily lives, forgiveness may be a wise prescription, but, for most of us, justice cries out that great crimes must neither be forgotten or forgiven.”

Perhaps “forgiveness” is not the appropriate word. How can one “forgive” when one has no power to inflict punishment? Perhaps those who use the word “forgiveness” mean what is contained in the teachings of the Buddha. In the Buddhist bible, The Dhammapada, Buddha says:

“‘He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.’ Those who think such thoughts will not be free from hate.

“‘He insulted me, he hurt me, he defeated me, he robbed me.’ Those who think not such thoughts will be free from hate.

“For hate is not conquered by hate: hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal.” (This is from the English translation of The Dhammapada by Juan Mascaro.)

This teaching of the Buddha stands in sharp contrast to the need to resist evil with force, which is also a teaching of many other religions. It appears that each person must choose for himself between these two contradictory courses of action.

— Ramachandra B. Abhyankar

Terre Haute

Consequences of gay marriage

According to a recent editorial in the Tribune-Star, “the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last week concerning same-sex marriage reflects the continuing evolution of American attitudes toward the subject.” I find this use of the word “evolution” very interesting. With evolution now being directed by human beings, starting with attitudes, we need to be careful that it doesn’t produce serious biological as well as sociological consequences.

If evolution is the explanation for how we got here, it appears to have done a pretty good job just by being blind, deaf and dumb. According to scientists, evolution is undirected and without purpose, but some how it miraculously came up with a very ingenious mechanism to create new life — sexual reproduction.  

Sexual reproduction is the primary means of survival for the vast majority of plants and animals. Its advantages include forestalling the accumulation of harmful mutations and adaptation to changing environments. But sexual reproduction requires the interaction of a male and a female and the fusion of their gametes to produce new individuals. Historically, when this is practiced by human beings in a stable, traditional family environment, involving a husband a wife and their children, it also contributes to a healthy society.

But now we have a contemporary enlightened culture intent on pursuing a path that might possibly lead to human extinction. Disease and famine in many parts of the world, the one-child policy in China, and contraception and abortion have, for the first time in history, resulted in human birthrates that are falling behind the death rate. As same-sex marriage begins to compete with traditional marriage, this condition can only get worse.    

Family ties have always been a treasured heritage, and the traditional family environment has contributed in most cases to emotionally stable human beings. But with surrogate motherhood or children removed from one or both of their biological parents to produce same-sex family units that mimic traditional families, the worst human inclinations might become rampant.

As predicted by the Apostle Paul, this could result in a generation of people who are “proud, abusive, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Or are we already beginning to see this?

— Dick Wood

Terre Haute

Fine museum in impressive city

As an artist with work being shown in the 69th Annual Wabash Valley Juried Exhibition at the Swope Museum of Art, I’ve had the opportunity of visiting your city, the Swope Museum and a number of your local businesses several times in the past few weeks.

First of all, the Terre Haute area is so fortunate to have a public-based gallery such as the Swope — what a nice collection of art, plus their varied exhibitions and impressive community engagement programs. As a resident of Muncie, a city similar in size and economic makeup as Terre Haute — and the home of a sister university to ISU — I must tell you how our community would love to have a public art museum like the Swope. Also, the staff at the Swope is nothing short of outstanding.

Last Saturday was the opening of the 69th Annual Wabash Valley Juried Exhibition, so it offered me an opportunity to see the pieces selected by this year’s juror. I encourage all of the Tribune-Star readers to make time in their busy schedules to see the show — a very nice and diverse selection of art representing the outstanding creative and technical talents of artists from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. This is one of the most prestigious and fine art competitions in the Midwest.

I’m also impressed with your community and the advancements you are making, your friendly people and a vision of an improving community and quality of place. Support the Swope, see the show and keep involved with your community. There is much to be proud of in Terre Haute and West Central Indiana.

— Tom Farris


Just venting on health care law

To all the people out there who thought in my recent letter that I was slamming my job or thinking not everyone deserves health care, that was not my intention.

I love my job. Working with children is all I have ever wanted to do. Children are our future.

As far as the response in the Sunday paper, Mr. Camp, I’m sorry you don’t feel my teaching assistant job is a real job. Tell that to the children.

I need you and other people to know I volunteer for my school all the time. I am over my elementary school’s Big Brother Big Sister Program, which we may be losing because of the health care law. But I can’t volunteer for after-school activities — Christmas programs, school carnivals, ball-game concessions, band flag-making, etc. – because I work in a school. I cannot volunteer my time.

Good luck, kids. It’s just more on the teachers and parents. What’s next?

By the way, to all of you, I know where my salary comes from. I was just venting.

— Marla Norris, employee

Clay Community Schools

Terre Haute

Funds mount from benefit ride

This year, 2013, is the 15th consecutive year the Wabash Valley Motorcycle Club had its annual St. Ann’s Benefit ride and auction.

St. Ann’s Clinic provides medical care to people who have no insurance and no support by either Medicare or Medicaid for their medical needs. St. Ann’s serves all surrounding counties such as Vigo, Vermillion, Clay, Sullivan, Parke and also Clark, Edgar, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Effingham, and Lawrence in Illinois.

With the economy as it is today, our generous donors still came through. To date we have collected a grand total of over $94,000 for the clinic. Included in our total were proceeds from our “Bushels of Fun” raffle. The winners of the bushels were L. Vanatti, L. Sammann, and N. Edwards.

The Wabash Valley Motorcycle Club wishes to sincerely thank all clubs, restaurants, organizations, businesses and individuals that again have donated auction items or money. Also, we would like to thank everyone who purchased tickets and helped make this our best year ever in helping St. Ann's Clinic.

— Ward Frazier

Public relations

Wabash Valley Motorcycle Club

West Terre Haute